The Africa Matter Ambassador Program (AMAP) is a 1-year blended-learning African leadership development program which provides successful applicants with online training, skills development, cross-continental network building, mentorship from industry leaders across Africa.
For the last 6 months the inaugural Ambassadors have been hard at work. They have completed their training modules (Soft Skills, African Leadership, African Feminisms, and Social Entrepreneurship), and are have recently begun the practical element of the program.
Their community impact projects are intertwined with Africa Matter’s YLDP and SLDP workshops. Ambassadors are to identify issues that affect their communities and establish tangible and sustainable solutions to rectify them. They are to collaborate and train youth in their communities who do not form part of the Africa Matters community to achieve tangible youth empowerment across communities.
Ambassadors will then work toward establishing Africa Matters hubs in their countries.
Africa Matters recently spoke to Angolan Ambassador Lussevikueno Kihonda about his experience with Ambassador Programme thus far.
You have been part of the Africa Matters Ambassador Programme since June 2019 and you’re coming to the end of your training. Which module was your favourite and why?
The Ambassador experience has been great. I've had the time and the opportunity to learn from a lot of people from different places and cultures. It has been really great.
The module that has really touched me and that I really liked, is the African Feminisms module. It’s something I’ve been practicing for a while, but I enjoy knowing the different terms for what I’ve been practicing.
I liked it because I’ve always tried to teach people, especially my students, about feminism, about how they can respect and accept women as active members of the community. So that was the module that really caught my attention.
How did your students respond to this? What were their feelings about it?
My students had no real knowledge of feminism. I had to teach them and explain what it is and what it’s about, and what it takes to be a feminist.
At first, we had a few shocking discussions. They had different views on the subject as I did being already informed about it.
I like to focus on the male side because its mostly the men that has that mindset of women having to be in a lower category in society, that they cannot do certain things as men can. So, I always focus on teaching and getting men to practice feminism. And they took it well. Not at first, of course, because we had some battle there that we had to fight and come to peace about, but at the end; which was good, we came to an agreement that it is important and that men can practice it too.
Moving forward to the practical component of your Ambassadorship, how has the preparation for that been? What are your hopes for this stage of your Ambassadorship?
Regarding the practical sessions, I’ve been having troubles. I have everything prepared, it’s just that the venues where I’ve requested to conduct my sessions haven’t given me a positive response.
I’m currently negotiating with other institutions that they give me a green light because there will still be some students at school writing exams. And I'm trying to negotiate with some of them to attend the practical sessions of the AMAP.
It’s a challenge, and I have to say that I live in a country where people don’t make it easy for such programmes and events to be implemented. Everyone thinks that it should be someone in a higher position to do that, and the youth are not really that involved in solving the problems of the community.
Also, when there is someone who is trying to teach the youth about skills like leadership, people don’t take it well. They don’t make it easy for such events to take place and it’s really a challenge. I’ve put in requests, two months ago, and only as recently as the 20th of November I got a call saying it won’t be possible being that the kids will soon go off for holidays.
So, it’s really a challenge for me. I’m doing my best to make it happen, because if I don’t then I would feel like I haven’t been able to achieve what I have envisioned for my community and as an Africa Matters Ambassador.
What would it mean to you to implement a YLDP session in Angola?
The implementation of these programmes would really mean a lot to me.
Since 2014, when I first played a direct role as a leader as the head of the Student's Association, what I’ve loved the most is working with people and teaching them, especially the youth. In the country where I live, it’s messed up because the youth have a lot of potential but not the opportunity to go further with their potential, of exploiting it to the fullest because the opportunities are really rare.
So, it would really mean a lot to me to host these sessions. Unfortunately, I've been struggling to get a venue to host the session. But I'm still doing the best I can to host them at at least one school this year. I love to see the youth getting empowered, trained and being successful.
Information is power, and the lack of information and opportunities for the youth of my country puts us in the position we are today. If this was implemented before, if the youth were adequately educated before, a lot would be different right now.
I have this goal of making a big impact to the youth of Africa, especially the youth of Angola, because they need more. And when they have people with vision such as the Africa Matters Ambassadors, they are into the advantage of getting to know more and teach as well.
It doesn’t matter if only three, five or ten people attend the sessions, that information will still get to other people because those ten people that attend the session are going to teach the ones that were not present about the knowledge they have acquired and the information will flow on and on. That would be a great achievement for me.
What advice would you give young Africans about making an impact?
Two things I’ve really fallen in love with are leadership and entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship because we lack it here. It’s now becoming something like a fever because we’re facing an economic crises and people are seeing that there’s no other way that they are going to get away from this other than investing and supporting themselves through entrepreneurship.
This is something that I have been trying to get my students into, because I always give them advice about how to make investments no matter what amount of money they have.
I also teach them that entrepreneurship is not about making money, it’s about making changes, making an impact, because entrepreneurs see problems and issues in the community and come up with a solution to them. That’s why I've fallen in love with entrepreneurship.
The investments we are going to make are not just about selling products, getting money, but finding problems and addressing issues the community faces. This is also entrepreneurship. We can focus on social entrepreneurship, which is like opening a community library. Investing in information and knowledge.
Leadership, because our youth of Angola lack leadership skills. They cannot take the lead; they cannot take positions in their community. We have been educated like this: you don’t speak politics; you don’t go against your leaders; you don’t question highness. You do this; you go this way. You don’t get anywhere by taking a stand. That’s how we were raised.
But that is changing, because we are getting influences from outside. A lot of youth went abroad and experienced different things, and they come back educating others about how things could be and how they could go.
I always want to teach people about leadership skills because they need it. If you don’t have the spirit of a leader, you can never make a change. Even just to talk to people, you need to have that attitude. That’s why I like to focus on entrepreneurship and leadership. They are two things we really need here in Angola thus Africa.
That would be my advice to the youth of Africa. To become entrepreneurs and great leaders. Learn from everyone, even the worst leaders have a great lesson to teach and we can learn a lot from them.
How has your experience with Africa Matters been thus far?
Me and my English-speaking friends often talk about how English is the language of opportunity. If you know English, you have access to any information. It’s there, available. And when you don’t have that advantage, it makes it harder to get access to information that could change the way we see and do things.
For example, Africa Matters. I’ve said this before. If I didn’t know English, I would have not known about Africa Matters today because I would have been one of the youths of Africa that’s there, sitting and watching, even though I knew that I could do something to change the point of view of the youth of Angola.
I would not know where to start. It is a great thing that has happened, me joining Africa Matters, because then I got to know from a lot of people from different cultures, from different realities, and it really has helped me a lot on how I should deliver leadership content, see things, and how I should work with people, mainly the youth.
With that I mean to tell that the experience has been really great. I have learned a lot and hopefully taught and motivated the other Ambassadors too.